One of the most successful books in British literature, this book is still in print 160 years after it was written.
Published only a year before Marryat's death, the scene is set in rural England at the time of the Roundheads. The family who are set as the heroes of the story are perfectly ordinary middle-class English, but because they live in a farm and not in a hovel, they are seen as the enemy by the Levellers.
Some of their property is destroyed, and they have to pretend to be what they are not in order to survive at all. The story is full of life and excitement, which is why no doubt it has survived for getting on for two centuries.
Frederick Marryat was born in Great George Street, Westminster, London on 10th July 1792. His father, Joseph Marryat, was descended from Huguenots who had taken refuge in England following the St. Bartholemew’s Day massacres in 1572, two centuries previously, and his mother was an American from Boston, with the maiden name of Geyer. Frederick's grandfather was Dr. Thomas Marryat, an extremely eccentric physician, who had died, impoverished, in Bristol just before Frederick's birth.
Frederick's father Joseph, however, was very wealthy, partly by inheritance and marriage, and partly by his own endeavours. He was a Member of Parliament for Sandwich, the Chairman of Lloyd's, and Agent for Grenada in the West Indies. They lived in Wimbledon, and sent their second son – Frederick – to Mr. Freeman's private school at Ponders End, now a district of North London.
Frederick was very interested in the sea, and tried several times to run away to it. He relates in “The King's Own” how impresssed he was with Nelson's State funeral in 1806. In September of that year he joined the frigate Imperieuse, 38 guns, as a midshipman, where Lord Cochrane, later Earl of Dundonald, was Captain. During his time in Imperieuse the young Marryat saw a great deal of action, which is told more fully in an article by Mike Phillips. This period ended with an attack led by Lord Chatham on Antwerp which failed; Marryat caught a malarial fever from the marsh air, which affected his lungs, and which subsequently was to make him seriously ill on a number of occasions.
In 1818 he invented a Lifeboat, for which he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Humane Society.
About this time he wrote articles suggesting that the Navy could find a better way than impressment for recruiting its men, but these were badly received.
In January 1819 he married Catharine, second daughter of Sir Stephen Shairp, for many years Consul-General in Russia. They had four sons and seven daughters, but three of the sons died before Frederick did, and the last one died young in 1855.
He resigned from the Navy on the grounds of "private affairs" in 1830. He had already completed the manuscript of "The King's Own," and he now wrote and published "The Naval Officer, or Scenes and Adventures in the Life of Frank Mildmay," for which he was well paid, and which launched his literary career.
In 1830 he exchanged Sussex House, Hammersmith, for a property of a thousand acres at Langham near Blakeney in North Norfolk. This property was an expensive one to maintain, but he retained it till his death, and was buried just near the west door of Langham church.
Marryat enjoyed an expensive style of life, travelling between London, Brighton – the centre of Regency Buck Society – and Langham. He also stayed for a year or so in Brussels, and travelled extensively in America during 1837-38. He finally settled at Langham in 1843, where he died on 8th August 1848.
A PDF of scans and an HTML version of this book are provided. We also provide a plain TEXT version and full instructions for using this to make your own audiobook. To find these click on the PDF, HTML or TXT links on the left.
These transcriptions of books by various nineteenth century authors of instructive books for teenagers, were made during the period 1997 to the present day by Athelstane e-Books. Most of the books are concerned with the sea, but in any case all will give a good idea of life in the nineteenth century, and sometimes earlier than that. This of course includes attitudes prevalent at the time, but frowned upon nowadays.
We used a Hewlett-Packard scanner, a Plustek OpticBook 3600 scanner or a Nikkon Coolpix 5700 camera to scan the pages. We then made a pdf which we used to assist with editing the OCRed text.
To make a text version we used TextBridge Pro 98 or ABBYY Finereader 7 or 8 to produce a first draft of the text, and Athelstane software to find misreads and improve the text. We proof-read the chapters, and then made a CD with the book read aloud by either Fonix ISpeak or TextAloud MP3. The last step enables us to hear and correct most of the errors that may have been missed by the other steps, as well as entertaining us during the work of transcription.
The resulting text can be read either here at the Internet Archive or at www.athelstane.co.uk